Laura Sikes

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Unity, partnership evident at disaster relief national roundtable

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteer Jason Yarbrough kicked off his first year as state disaster relief director for the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma by attending the annual SBDR roundtable Jan. 24-26 at North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

FIRST-PERSON: Christmas prayers for storm victims

Hundreds of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers brought help, healing and hope to thousands of people affected by the devastating tornadoes in December in the south and midwest. Volunteers manned chainsaw teams, feeding units and helped tarp roofs across the affected states.

DR efforts continue in Carolinas, across U.S.

LONGS, S.C. (BP) -- Pastor Lebron Crisp of Living Water Baptist Church challenged his congregation to look for opportunities to reach hurting people after Hurricane Florence struck the church's community just a few miles northwest of North Myrtle Beach. The storm's flood waters damaged hundreds of homes including several homes of church members. "It just breaks our hearts. I want to be out here [helping] every waking second," said Crisp, founding pastor and pastor of the church in Longs, S. C., for 29 years. Crisp, church members and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers reached out to deacon Russ Frye and his wife Gerry, who lost most everything in their home of 19 years in the Aberdeen community.

After storms, ‘Mama Mills’ leans on Bapt. relief

HAVELOCK, N.C. (BP) -- Linda Mills, 70, has served others in her community for 42 years by hosting Sunday lunches from her cozy home in Havelock, N.C. Her humble service has earned her the affectionate moniker "Mama Mills." It all started when her husband Harold, who passed away 15 years ago, said "Mama, I'm bringing a little, starvin' Marine home," Mills said. From then on, her longtime ministry grew and became known as "The Lunch Bunch." She faithfully provided a home-cooked meal and a "home away from home" welcoming many young soldiers and others "who needed some extra love," she said. On Sundays, she cooked lunch for 20 to 40 guests usually. On one Easter, she fed 74. Most of her guests are young U.S. Marines from nearby U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, N.C.

Students join hurricane relief efforts in N.C.

NEW BERN, N.C. (BP) -- When an East Carolina University cross country team found they had an off weekend from running, they decided to go and help survivors of Hurricane Florence. They joined a college-wide effort to help Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers serve in the hard-hit New Bern, N.C., area. Last Saturday (Oct. 6), 23 team members carpooled using their own vehicles and made the 45-minute drive from their college campus in Greenville, N.C. They assisted with a tear-out of a home that had taken on more than two feet of floodwater after the Neuse River overflowed its banks. After receiving an SBDR orientation along with additional training from the college, the students followed an SBDR team that had begun the tear-out the day before.

DR requests & salvations continue in Carolina relief

NEW BERN, N.C. (BP) -- When 89-year-old William Cunniff returned to his flood-damaged home in North Carolina, he found mold climbing the walls of every room, the remains of Hurricane Florence. Cunniff had evacuated and stayed out of the state with relatives until it was safe to return. The widower and U.S. Marine Corps veteran found that his home of 20 years in New Bern's Fairfield Harbour community had taken on more than a foot of floodwater just as many other homes had in his neighborhood. Cunniff is staying with his next-door neighbor whose garage took on less than a foot of water.

S.C. church serves community in Florence aftermath

DILLON, S.C. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers came to bring help, healing and hope to Hurricane Florence survivors in Dillon, S.C. And they were met with overwhelming support and appreciation from the community and their host, First Baptist Church of Dillon. Dillon County, with a population of about 30,000, has suffered three major disasters from storms in the last four years. Flood waters in 2015 devastated much of the state from Columbia to the coastal areas. Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016 and Hurricane Florence followed in September this year with its heavy, unceasing rains, which caused much flooding that damaged homes and businesses, some for the second time since 2015.

Rescue of 18 from flood: ‘doing what I had to do’

RAINELLE, W.Va. (BP) -- Rob Bowen had a decision to make. Flee rising floodwaters or help others find safety. The night of the historic flooding in West Virginia, Bowen and his wife Terri decided they would aid their neighbors. The couple quickly took action. Strapping a light to his forehead, Bowen, a former coal miner, said he found himself out in the darkness in his kayak with a friend searching for neighbors in his hometown of Rainelle, like 86-year-old Joan Burns. "I had to go and check on my neighbor to see if she was okay," Bowen said. Burns, who lives alone next to the Bowens' hardware store, Redstar Home Supply, pointed her flashlight through her window to signal the men, who then managed to move her to safety. Southern Baptists Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers are now helping Burns return to her home.

DR volunteers continue serving W.Va. flood survivors

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (BP) -- Three weeks after historic flooding in West Virginia, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers continue to serve survivors as they begin the long process of recovery. Southern Baptists are serving in the Charleston, W.Va., area in Kanawha County along the Elk River. SBDR volunteers, including members from the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV), manned one of three feeding kitchens in the state. Heritage Baptist Church in Elkview hosted one kitchen that had prepared more than 63,000 meals as of July 10. Feeding unit volunteers also came from ...

Students, volunteers help save housing complex

SUMMERTON, S.C. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers working in Summerton, S.C., last week helped save the area's only affordable housing community from permanent closure. The apartment complex took on more than two feet of flood water during historic flooding in the region Oct. 4. Meadowfield Apartments sits on west side of Summerton, a small community north of Lake Marion. Most of the area was flooded ...